Commercial & Financial Services Pathway
Commercial and financial services law covers the detailed and complex financial transactions made by banks and financial services institutions. A commercial and financial services attorney represents lenders, agents, borrowers, and any other participants in those transactions. Transactions may involve acquiring other companies, purchasing or developing property, financing infrastructure and public projects, and buying large assets like machinery and ships.
In addition to negotiating traditional commercial lending transactions and deals for the sale of insurance and securities, commercial and financial services attorneys provide expertise on refinancing, debt-based or leveraged acquisitions, and recapitalization and tender offer financings. Lawyers in this field may also restructure financings, plan bankruptcy buyouts, and work with debtors and lenders in troubled acquisitions. Commercial and financial services is heavily regulated so lawyers also advise clients on how to structure their deals within the law.
Lawyers in this area need strong negotiation skills, a keen attention to detail, and a high-level of organization. A background in accounting and credit analysis or an undergraduate degree in finance or accounting can help a lawyer read financial statements and understand the work that comprises commercial and financial services law.
Commercial and financial services lawyers enjoy the art of making the deal. Others like the creative challenge of assessing a troubled company or financial structure and coming up with a plan that averts a financial loss or mitigates it substantially. In contrast to litigation practice, where attorneys can spend a year or more working on the same cases, a commercial and financial services lawyer typically spends six to eight weeks, or potentially up to six months, on one deal before moving on to the next one.
Breadth and Depth
- Accounting for Lawyers
- Banking Law
- Closely Held Businesses
- Federal Income Taxation
- International Business Transactions
- Land Finance Law
- Survey of Intellectual Property Law
- The Business of Lawyering
- Advanced Appellate Advocacy Seminar
- Alternative Dispute Resolution
- Bankruptcy Clinic
- Business and Tax Law Field Placement
- Business Transactions: The Art of the Deal
- Government Practice Field Placement
- Mock Trial and Scrimmage Team
- Moot Court Competition Teams
- Negotiation and Settlements Seminar
Experiential Learning │ Clinics
- Bankruptcy Clinic (875)
- Small Business Law Clinic (859)
Experiential Learning │ Externships
- Semester in Practice (961)
- Special Externship (957)
The ability to work accurately and efficiently in a fast-paced environment with sophisticated clients and attorneys is essential for commercial and financial services attorneys. Other important skills include:
- Attention to detail
- Relationship building
- Interpersonal communication
- Strong business sense
- Practical and strategic thinking
The below-listed activities will help you develop a competitive edge in commercial and financial services law because students learn client relations skills, develop analytical and strategic thinking, and build confidence to interact with a variety of professionals.
- Work as a summer associate in a law firm with corporate law departments that have banks and financial institutions as clients
- Any clinical work that involves working with clients
- Judicial clerkship or externship
- Serve as a student leader of an organization or group
Practice Settings & Clients
Where do commercial and financial services attorneys work?
Commercial and financial services attorneys work in a variety of practice settings. These include:
- Private law firms. Generally large firms because of their depth of practice areas and clients. Some boutique law firms specialize in this area of law.
- Banks or financial institutions such as credit unions, trust companies, or commercial finance companies. These institutions hire in-house counsel to ensure the company is compliant with strict regulations as well as to advise on employment, litigation, general business, purchasing, or tax matters.
- Government agencies
Who are their clients?
- National banks, financial institutions, and lenders
- Individual loan officers within financial institutions
It is important to stay current with the most recent developments in banking and finance and to read about the latest news on clients before talking to them.
Good resources to read:
- The Wall Street Journal
- The New York Times
- American Bar Association Business Law section
- The Business Lawyer